DURATION: 10/01/2015 - 02/29/2020
FUNDER: U.S. Department of State

Program Description

Leaders for Democracy Fellowship (LDF) is a five-year leadership development initiative designed to advance participatory governance and civic engagement in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Over a five-year period, LDF aims to support 230 emerging civil society leaders from the region by providing academic and skill-based training and connecting them with hundreds of program alumni. The program supports professionals who have a familiarity with the theoretical elements of participatory governance and civic systems, as well as practical experience.

For information on the the LDF Lebanon/Arabic Program please contact Chantal Souaid

For information on the the LDF U.S./English Program please contact Fouzia Bencheikh.

Countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Yemen

Program Goals

  • To support fellows in acquiring relevant skills to successfully implement initiatives to solve complex local, economic, environmental, political and social challenges affecting their community

Program Cycle

Academic Learning

The LDF program begins with four weeks of academic learning based in Lebanon for the Arabic language program, in partnership with the American University of Beirut (AUB), and in the U.S., for the English language program, in partnership with Duke University. Fellows spend those weeks completing practical coursework in theoretical areas of leadership, consensus-building, conflict resolution, communications, project management, advocacy, and participatory governance. Self-reflection assignments, one-on-one mentorships, and group discussions throughout the four-week process support fellows link their academic coursework to their program objectives and long-term professional goals.


Following the academic component, there is an eight-week practicum that continues in Beirut and Washington, DC. During the practicum, fellows are placed in organizations aligned with their interests. They are provided opportunities to apply their academic knowledge and their professional experience in a practical setting while working on projects for the organization with which they are placed. The practicum period is also a time for fellows to build networks across countries and the region, share resources and information, and collaborate on joint initiatives.